Bill requires tourism officer in each LGU

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Thursday, August 7, 2014


BOHOL Rep. Rene Relampagos has filed a bill seeking to create permanent tourism officers in local government units (LGU) to boost tourism activities in the countryside.

House Bill 4305 seeks the creation of local tourism officers in all provinces, cities and municipalities “where tourism is a significant industry,” as mandated by RA 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009.

“One of the concerns raised by LGUs is the lack of a permanent position for a tourism officer,” said Relampagos. The bill was filed last April 21.

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Section 42 of the Tourism Act of 2009 mandates that a permanent position for tourism officers be created in LGUs where tourism is a significant industry. However, RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 contains no such provision in its exclusive list of officers for every LGU.

The proposal, according to Relampagos, intends to address the issue by amending relevant provisions of RA 7160.

“The present bill will promote the growth of the tourism industry by strengthening grass-root regulation and promotion of tourism in the country,” he said.

Understand industry

“Tourism is a fast growing industry in the Philippines. In fact, as of 2013, tourism is being eyed as the forerunner for the country’s economic growth. It is expected to generate a significant number of local employment opportunities,” he said.

Cebu tourism advocates backed the bill saying a permanent local tourism officer can help ensure continuity of tourism projects.

“I think it’s a good idea for as long as the people they appoint understand the industry. I think years ago the LGU of Loboc in Bohol did that and even sent the officers to Australia for training. That is how Loboc was able to transform and upgrade their cruise in a short span of time,” said Jonathan Jay Aldeguer, president of the Islands Group.

Cenelyn Manguilimotan, president of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), said the proposed legislation allows continuity of projects in the local level, which is vital in achieving a sustainable tourism industry.

“I am for it provided the tourism officer is qualified and has experience in the tourism industry for the continuity of good tourism projects in case there is change of administration,” said Jenny Franco of Network of Independent Travel Agencies (Nitas).

Manguilimotan admitted the industry encountered several challenges with LGUs and what disappoints them is that there is no permanent point person to talk to.

“The private sector is very eager to help promote tourism in the countryside, but it would be hard for the sector to get moving if there is no single person, well-trained and permanent at that, that will act as local tourism champion that will sustain the projects and partnerships despite change of administration,” she said.

Mangulimotan, who is the general manager of Cebu Parklane International Hotel, said the issue has long been a concern of the industry and should be taken seriously by the Department of Tourism (DOT). She said success in tourism not only lies in the destinations but also in the continuity of projects initiated either by the government or private sector.

Active

DOT 7 Director Rowena Montecillo, meanwhile, reported that more LGUs in Cebu are now active in implementing their own tourism development plan.

“More LGUs are now aware of the growth opportunities tourism can bring to their locality in terms of income and job generation. Those areas with high potential in tourism have been working closely with the DOT in terms of technical and marketing help,” said Montecillo.

She made it clear though that tourism projects should really be initiated by the LGUs and that the DOT’s intervention will come in form of technical assistance that will suit the community.

“There are more LGUs that need proper tourism development plan. There are some who don’t know their tourism plans while other don’t know what to do with their tourism sites but I can say that they are starting to learn,” said Montecillo.

She cited Malabuyoc as an example where its LGU initiated programs in the development of its hot springs and waterfalls.

“The LGU of Malabuyoc identified beforehand its tourism sites and they sought the help of the DOT on how they can improve their product, so technical assistance was provided to them,” she said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 08, 2014.

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